Cleopatra’s Moon tells the childhood story of Cleopatra Selene, daughter of Marc Antony (Marcus Antonius) and the most famous Cleopatra (VII) in history. The story covers her life from ages six to sixteen, from her parents’ fall from power to the capture of Cleopatra Selene and her brothers to their lives living in Rome.
Catered to the young adult market, Cleopatra’s Moon has a lot to offer older readers as well. While there may not be as much meat on the bones as many adult historical fiction novels have, the history is plentiful and smoothly incorporated into the story. Aside from a few, minor instances, not much Cleopatra Selene said or did stood out as odd and the history seemed sound (though I am far from an expert). The author’s writing style is easy to read, has a nice flow, and the descriptions are well-done; I could easily picture the surroundings, so the scenes came alive for me. She doesn’t shy away from suggestive scenes, making the story feel more realistic, though nothing is described explicitly either. The author is up front about what is and is not fact in the six-page section at the end of book entitled “The Facts Within the Fiction,” which gives the reader more information about the people mentioned within the book. If anyone goes into this book expecting more love story than historical fiction, they will be sadly disappointed. Any love story takes a back seat to Cleopatra Selene’s struggle with both herself and her circumstances in life.
If I had one quibble with the book, it was the children’s and Cleopatra Selene’s voices. The children sounded a bit too mature at times, including Cleopatra Selene when young. Although in her case, it was more her voice didn’t change much throughout the ten years the book covered and it was too familiar. I’ve come across other young adult protagonists that sounded very similar to her, both historical and contemporary, so I was hoping hers would be a bit more distinctive from the rest. Still, it’s a very small thing and I did like Cleo Selene; she wasn’t passive, but she wasn’t aggressive either, she fell somewhere in between the two, which worked well for the book.
After all has been said, Cleopatra’s Moon does what any (good) historical fiction novel should aspire to, it made me want to know more about the time, people, and places.
Borrowed from the library.
(Clicking on the book cover image or title take you to the book’s product page on Amazon)